News

Image Test Labs offers SmartBuyTM to print providers

Service allows print providers to objectively manage press purchasing by simulating how a specific press will fit in with other equipment; assists in press acceptance testing and management.

February 7, 2017 – Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC announces that it has launched SmartBuyTM, a unique procurement resource for both digital and analog print providers.  SmartBuyTM leverages the largest database of graded images in the world and, with a patented head-to-head comparison process, determines how new or used equipment will perform along with other presses on a plant floor.

For the past two years, ITL has been running its primary offering, the ImageGraderTM product, on press systems throughout the world measuring the acceptability of the image quality of test prints. Most of the company's clients are press manufacturers who use ITL technology to fine-tune and improve their press technology while it is under development. These manufacturers sell their presses to a wide range of print providers, large and small, who use a variety of hardware to serve a wide spectrum of print customers.

ITL has made independent assessments based on measurements and analysis of a large body of consistent data gathered from hundreds of presses and production sites over the past several years. “We have observed that ITL services are more and more frequently used for acceptance testing and as a reference of performance for comparison over time,” says Henry B. Freedman, founding partner of ITL. This led to the development of the ITL SmartBuyTM for presses.

"We realized that this service could also offer print providers a new way to see the many benefits of access to ITL data. We can compare their press’s imagery to many others throughout the world. In fact, our services are unique in that we have the largest global database of digital printers and presses against which to compare results," adds Freedman. "With our new service, ITL SmartBuyTM, a print provider can select a press in the marketplace and see how it performs compared to the provider’s current equipment. We are vendor neutral, so print providers get an unbiased, objective idea of how a new press will function on their production floors. Our service includes a live briefing for the customer to explain the test results and what the report really means."

Priced at $994—a fraction of the cost of a press—ITL SmartBuyTM is an affordable, independent service that is not vendor-sponsored. It will work for both digital and offset presses of all forms.

ITL SmartBuyTM service consists of four test files run during the process of selecting a press (new or used), when accepting a press once delivered, and during the first months of use. Running the files at these different times serves to evaluate the press and verify that it is maintaining proper print quality. ITL teams up with the press provider to assure the press delivers for the customer. The ITL process actually accelerates vendor remedy to the press.

"We usually purchase new machines," remarks Ken Chaletzky, President & CEO, Copy General Corp. "We see great value in using the ITL SmartBuyTM service before investing in future equipment. This is the first tool I’ve seen that provides a really objective report on a specific press. It gives us a level of expectation. For people who want to see how their presses will perform qualitatively, this is it. It's sort of the CARFAX® for press buyers."

Gwin's Printing, based in Mobile, Alabama, has become the most technologically advanced commercial printer on the Gulf Coast. “We owned two older digital presses and have recently installed a new digital press from the same manufacturer,” explains Randy Osmon, General Manager at Gwin's Printing.

“We decided to run all three machines through the SmartBuyTM rating process. It was a way to learn what might be enhanced or deficient with the older or newer machines. We discovered that while the machines scored very well against printers in the same class, the older and newer machines performed pretty similarly. ITL suggested that the new RIP could have influenced the results, so we’re working on it. Our new printer offers more features and our oldest press was customized to run lightweight stock, so they have niches that we use them for,” says Osmon.

“It struck me that SmartBuyTM would be particularly attractive when purchasing a used machine,” adds Osmon. “If I am buying a new or used machine and moving it here, I can test how it is printing at the time I am about to make a decision, and then make sure it is running well when it is installed. I can build that into the contract.”



Graphic Arts Alliance to offer Image Test LabsTM services to its members.

Cooperative members will use the innovative, easy-to-understand printed image assessment service to learn how well their presses operate.

April 28, 2015 — Graphic Arts Alliance (GAA), and Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC announce that the Image Test Labs Image GraderTM press grading service will be available to members of the buying association at a reduced cost.

"By working with ITL, we offer the opportunity for our members to receive independent feedback about the quality of their presses, and to compare them with comparable as well as the full range of available presses. Our members believe strongly in process control and ITL's Image GraderTM is an important new tool that verifies how well the press delivers the printed image to the customer and how they are doing across their entire printing process," says John G. Braceland, Managing Director for Graphic Arts Alliance.

Purchasing cooperative to offer innovative service to all its members

GAA is a purchasing cooperative of printers and packaging companies whose mission is offer a wide variety of quality products at pre-negotiated quantity discounts. GAA enjoys national account status with its vendors and works to maintain excellent relationships. As its membership grows, it is able to renegotiate contracts to provide even better savings. They are constantly working on new contract areas, expanding existing contracts and looking for other opportunities that will add to the bottom line of each member company. In 2013 GAA distributed an average of over $14,000 in rebates per member, not including up-front savings.

The seven-member Board of Managers makes recommendations on contract areas and final decisions on vendor selection. Unlike many other purchasing groups, there is no obligation to buy from any group contract. This allows members to maintain control over their own purchases by selecting whichever contracts benefit them.

"GAA has a standard process that we undergo in terms of deciding which vendors to work with. ITL contacted us about their product and I discussed the opportunity with our manager group about it. Two managers conducted some testing with it, and wholeheartedly decided that ITL services would benefit our group," explains Braceland.

Industry leading innovation

The ITL Image Grader is an innovative, patent-pending technology that grades all types of conventional and digital printing presses, wide format printing systems, photographic printing systems and government and scientific print imaging systems. The ITL Image Grader report is an objective, repeatable evaluation of the press output quality and shows exactly where a particular press stands compared to similar and also other types of presses.

Print providers and major equipment manufacturers use this service to make educated decisions and operating procedures about their equipment. Customers have used the reports in a variety of ways, including for fine-tuning the press, press maintenance and repair, and evaluating the quality of a potential purchase.

Testing is a simple process. Users load the PDF target provided by ITL onto the press and print three sets, returning two to ITL and keeping the third. ITL does the rest.

Service to members

"I have known Henry Freedman for a long time. He and his team are like Thomas Edison and the Menlo Park research group. They are on the bleeding—or cutting—edge of new technology that helps many companies in the printing industry," adds Braceland. "While he has a strong scientific, technical mind, it is rare that Henry is also a printer. ITL applies science to printing to make printing better."

"GAA members represent the best in the US. Because John Braceland operated a number of successful printing companies, he himself is in the unique position to understand production and press technology," remarks Henry Freedman, one of ITL’s principal developers. "GAA provides ITL with a well qualified collection of businesses that are operating their facilities profitably and running champion printing plants."

Members are encouraged to visit the ITL website (www.imagetestlabs.com) to order ITL services. Once a product has been purchased, the member should directly notify GAA, who will apply the appropriate discount.





Pacific Printing Industries Association announces Image Test LabsTM service available directly to its members.

Association members can use the innovative, easy-to-understand printed image assessment service to understand how well their presses operate.

December 2, 2014 —The Pacific Printing Industries Association (PPI), and Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC announce that the Image Test Labs Image GraderTM press grading service will be available to members of the PIA affiliate at a reduced cost.

“ITL reports help PPI members produce more consistent, higher quality printed work for their clients—and save money and time across the different platforms of equipment that they own,” comments Jules Van Sant, PPI Executive Director.

“PPI represents print providers from Alaska to Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest. We can see why they are one of the leading PIA affiliates in the country. We look forward to working together to help PPI members know where they stand on all their digital and conventional press equipment,” remarks Henry Freedman, one of ITL’s principal developers.

Industry leading innovation

The ITL Image Grader is an innovative, patent-pending technology that grades all types of conventional and digital printing presses, wide format printing systems, photographic printing systems and government and scientific print imaging systems. The ITL Image Grader report is an objective, repeatable evaluation of the press output quality and shows exactly where a particular press stands compared to similar and also other types of presses.

Print providers and major equipment manufacturers use this service to make educated decisions and operating procedures about their equipment. Customers have used the reports in a variety of ways, including for fine-tuning the press, press maintenance and repair, and evaluating the quality of a potential purchase.

Testing is a simple process. Users load the PDF target provided by ITL onto the press and print three sets, returning two to ITL and keeping the third. ITL does the rest.

Hands-on testing

Three PPI board members performed extensive tests of the ITL Image Grader on their own presses, before deciding to offer the service to PPI membership. The shops ranged from a 5-person shop, to a mid-sized 40-50-employee printer, to a larger, 120-employee print provider, each located in a different climate throughout the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Based upon the positive results, they recommended that PPI offer the service to its members.

“Henry Freedman and his Image Test Labs team are truly ‘behind the scenes’ technology leaders in the graphic arts industry. What they bring to the table is strong value,” notes Van Sant. “People in our industry today need equipment consistency, accurate color, and machine assessments not dependent upon the vendor, but from an independent, third party source. ITL Image GraderTM reports how press equipment is truly working. It gives print providers the information to be proactive about questions with vendors, rather than reactive.”

“By ordering the ITL service through the PPI, there are two benefits. There is a cost savings for members, and ITL is also supporting the association by directing a portion of its revenues back to the association. This supports our mission to stay healthy, strong and profitable,” adds Van Sant.

The ITL service is immediately available to PPI members at a discount. They can access the link to the ITL at: http://ppiassociation.org/About/Benefits_Buying_Power.



New Image Test LabsTM Website Lets Print Providers Grade Presses and Imaging Systems at www.imagetestlabs.com

For the first time, owners of all digital and conventional presses can easily order-online-grading tests for their equipment.

September 10, 2014 —Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC, announces it has launched a completely updated website, www.imagetestlabs.com.

“For the first time, an owner of a press or digital printer can visit a website and easily access a testing system that actually grades a press or printer from a broad product range of printing devices. In addition to the grading of the press, Image Test Labs shows how that particular press performs against the same class of presses in the industry. ITL "Lets you know where you stand” TM. This allows the owner or potential buyer of a press to reap enormous benefits with a very small investment—particularly compared to the overall cost and value of a press,” explains Henry Freedman, one of the company’s principal developers.

Innovative Site Content

Image Test Labs has developed an innovative, patent-pending technology that grades all types of conventional and digital printing presses, wide format printing systems, photographic printing systems and government and scientific print imaging systems. This new technology, ITL Image Grader, underwent 600 hours of field testing before it was released. Print providers, as well as major equipment manufacturers, have successfully tested this technology and are using it to make educated decisions and operating procedures about their equipment.

Testing is a simple process. Users simply load the PDF target provided by ITL, print three sets on the press or imaging device, and mail two sets to ITL. ITL does the rest.

The website offers quick access to a variety of information:

  • To assist which test product is best for a visitor, there is an easy-to-understand product family description of each test. There’s a test available for any printer, from digital sheet fed, wide format and inkjet web presses to offset presses—both sheet-fed and web—as well as proofers, and more.
  • An online Library explains the technology behind ITL Image Grader, listing all of its innovations and breakthroughs, benefits to the user and the impact to the industry as a whole.
  • An FAQ offers answers to the most commonly asked questions ITL receives about the tests.
  • If a visitor wishes to learn firsthand of the merits of the ITL Image Grader, a visit to the testimonials page, offering statements from a wide variety of users— from companies including Cohber, Fujifilm, NewPage, Premier Press, Fairfax County Government inplant, Stephenson Printing, and Copy General—will provide convincing arguments.

ITL is offering prospective users the opportunity to review a sample report. They can see for themselves how thorough and helpful the ITL Image Grader is.

The website incorporates an easy order cart, and accepts major credit cards and PayPal.

“Our home page features an image of pioneers. We think of ourselves as pioneers, forerunners creating a unique system to help print providers get the most from their presses and improve their print quality,” remarks Freedman. “This theme will play out on our site throughout the year, as we honor other pioneers such as the Wright brothers, Benjamin Franklin, and landing on the moon. We respect the great efforts of these monumental people and events; in our own way we try to embody the same spirit and aspire to have an impact on the success of printers worldwide.”



Image Test LabsTM Announces the U.K. Launch of its Revolutionary Printed Image Assessment Service

Introduction coincides with participation of principal developer, Henry Freedman, at IPEX World Print Summit

March 18, 2014 —Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC, announces that it is launching its innovative, intuitive color management and press grading process in the U.K. ITL’s patent pending process measures the acceptance of an image rather than the image itself against a well-defined, objective list of performance parameters. The ITL report grades key press performance factors on an intuitive scale of A through F, rather than displaying performance as complex data such as average multiple delta-E, microns, and density units. Anyone can understand an ITL report, quickly and intuitively.

"ITL has had rapid growth and we have made a lot of progress since we launched the service in the U.S. in October. We have worked with print providers who want to understand how their particular presses are operating as well as press manufacturers who want a unique perspective of their presses’ performance before they are released to the field,” explains Henry Freedman, one of the company’s principal developers. “We’re getting such quick adoption now that at IPEX we have decided to introduce the service to users in the United Kingdom."

The introduction coincides with Freedman’s participation as a speaker at the IPEX 2014 World Print Summit. As a panelist during the session “Colour Confidence – An Audience with the Innovators,” Freedman will discuss ITL’s recently-developed color measurement and press grading process and explain how it is changing how the industry evaluates digital and conventional presses. The panel will be held during Ipex March 27 from 3:00-3:45pm.

Some of the many benefits and applications of the ITL grading report include:

  • Enables print providers to take full advantage of their existing presses, making it easier to produce printing economically.
  • Assists in communicating servicing needs to vendors.
  • Helps prevent ill-advised used press investments.
  • Allows for easy comparison of different printing materials and processes.
  • Shows how a given press compares to other presses of the same model and to presses from other manufacturers.

Testing is a simple process. Users need only load the PDF target provided by ITL, print three sets on the press or imaging device, and mail two sets to ITL. ITL does the rest. "Based on the results we have delivered to date, customers find the process universally simple. All users have to do is to print a target set and mail it to us," says Freedman.

Services include the standard ITL grading report for digital sheet-fed toner presses, wide format printing equipment, web printing, offset presses, proofing devices, or photo imaging devices.

Other services include:

  • PressFaxTM — Assesses the print quality of presses for prospective sale or purchase. A customer can see what a press is capable of before investing in it.
  • Before and AfterTM — Two test runs on a single press using the same settings and materials, but at different times. For example, if a press requires servicing, you can test the press before and after the service to monitor improvement.
  • Head to HeadTM — Assessment targets that compare two of the same model printers. Use it to compare one press to another, or to compare different papers or settings on a single press.
  • ITL Test PackTM — A set of four test runs at a reduced price.

The ITL grading service is available at www.imagetestlabs.com. Services are priced at approximately 285£ to 585£ (pricing may vary depending upon US dollar conversion rates—US pricing is from $470 to $974). Quantity discounts are available.

"We are already helping businesses in the U.S. make better equipment purchase, production, and QA decisions based upon the results they have received from us,” adds Freedman. “We look forward to doing the same with companies in the United Kingdom."



Image Test Labs Launches a Unique, Easy-to-Understand Printed Image Assessment Service

If your press went to school, what grade would it get and how would it score compared to others?

October 8, 2013 –Image Test LabsTM (ITL), a division of Technology Watch, LLC, launches an image grading service for digital, toner, inkjet, offset, and flexo color printing technologies. This ground-breaking, patent-pending technology–quite different from anything ever available in the printing industry–measures the acceptance of an image rather than the image itself against a well-defined, objective list of performance parameters. It delivers people grades for any printing press, letting them see how their equipment compares to other presses in a new, intuitive way. It allows print providers to take full advantage of their existing presses, making it easier to produce printing economically–or, it can prevent ill-advised used press investments.

Henry Freedman, one of the principal developers of Image Test Labs, says, "ITL is really an acceptance score or predictor for a press’s output. Image measurement and standards are tricky. Rather than expecting someone to make sense of statistics like average multiple delta E, microns, and density units, ITL assigns a simple A to F grade on the key factors of a press’s performance. Anyone can understand an ITL report, very quickly and intuitively."

Before releasing its image grading service, ITL conducted over 500 hours of field testing on live plant floors and on many different devices, including digital toner presses, offset presses, wide format inkjet, and proofing systems. The company’s process was reviewed by lead scientists from some of the most noted press manufacturers. However, because ITL does not provide consulting to any press vendors, it offers an independent, authoritative assessment.

George W. Stephenson, President of Stephenson Printing, Inc. says, "We have successfully run ITL grading on our offset, digital, and proofing systems. In over fifty years of production printing, I have never seen anything like the ITL image grading."

Testing is a simple process. Load the PDF target provided by ITL, print three sets on the press or imaging device you want to test, and mail two sets to ITL.

ITL does the rest. The company takes two dozen observations and measurements from the submitted output and groups them into a specially-engineered set of image attribute scores–including register, memory colors, line adjacency, addressable resolution, solids, mottle, streaks, neutrals, and facial tones, among other critical data. ITL’s patent-pending algorithms interpret and process the image attributes and assign a letter grade to each one. Customers also receive a report comparing their imaging device with a composite of similar models scored by ITL.

The ITL image grading report card also pinpoints strengths and weaknesses, greatly helping to address and correct imaging issues. It can help press owners communicate effectively with service technicians.

"This is the first tool I’ve seen that provides a really objective report on a specific press. For people who want to see how their presses are performing qualitatively, this is it. And, if I were buying a press, I would want to see one of these. It’s like a CarFax report for presses," comments Kenneth B. Chaletzky, President and CEO, Copy General.

"There are many ways ITL can really help a business. For example, our reports can help with solving performance issues with vendors. A used press buyer can demand an ITL test before committing to a purchase,” adds Freedman. “Or, a print buyer in Chicago can receive an ITL press grading from an unknown printer in Dallas, offering the buyer a better indication of whether a job will be printed well. In this way, the print buyer can feel more comfortable with a supplier, which enhances the business transaction."